The groups for the upcoming 2022 FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup were drawn today, giving the American ladies a headline spot with both the tournament opener against hosts India, and a highlight match against Brazil.
Head coach Natalia Astrain’s squad was drawn into group A alongside India, Brazil and Morocco. Due to being drawn into the A2 slot, they are set to play the hosts in the high-profile opening game of the tournament, which will take place on Tuesday, October 11, at Kalinga Stadium in the eastern Indian city of Bhubaneswar.
Three days later, they will face South Americans Brazil in the same stadium, before closing group play on October 17 against Morocco on the west coast in Goa, at the Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium.
For both the Indian and Moroccan teams, this is the first appearance in the final tournament. India qualified by way of being selected as hosts, whereas Morocco successfully navigated the four-rounds of African qualifying, beating Ghana on penalties to secure their debut.
Astrain’s team qualified by way of winning the 2022 CONCACAF Women’s U-17 Championship, a tournament where only archrivals Mexico were able to put up any sort of a fight, in the 2-1 finale. Mexico and third-place finishers Canada also qualified from the region, and were placed in Groups C and D, respectively.
The Americans will be looking to atone for their disappointing 2018 performance, where they finished a disappointing last place in Group C, securing an early flight home from Uruguay.
Similarly, Brazil won their regional tournament, and will also be hoping to advance past the group stage after failing to do so four years ago.
Despite being dominant forces on the more senior levels of the game, neither the US nor Brazil have won the U-17 ladies’ tournament. In fact, a final appearance by the US in the initial 2008 edition is the only time that either team has reached the final four.